In May 2015 an interview between BBC’s Steven Sackur and Jonathan Moyo, Zimbabwe’s then Minister of Information aired where the Minister was asked a barrage of questions to deal with the leadership, economy and succession in Zanu PF.
It is the latter part of the above that seems to have kindled the infighting in the war between Moyo and George Charamba. In an interview with a Zimbabwe private media weekly, The Standard the current Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education states that his pouring of “cold water on the ambitions of successionists by saying President Robert Mugabe had not appointed his vice-presidents so they could succeed him, but so they could assist him to implement the policy programmes he pledged to the nation in the 2013 elections” during that BBC interview was where it all started.
I later learnt, something which is now common cause that the BBC HardTalk interview did not go down well with successionists.
The most disappointing reaction came from Charamba. Remember, I was then Minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services where he was (and) he still is permanent secretary. Soon after my BBC HardTalk interview, Charamba started throwing administrative spanners into my ministerial work either by instructing officers not to do this or that for the minister or by holding up paperwork or by running a whisper campaign with State media journalists and officials who administer parastatals under the ministry to say to them, “the minister has fallen out of favour with the system”, and things like that.
Here’s a transcript of that interview:
Steven Sackur: Let us talk a little bit about Emmerson Mnangagwa. He is now the heir-apparent after the Joice…
Jonathan Moyo: That’s your view. Don’t state it as a fact.
SS: Well, he is the Vice President of the country, that’s not my view.
JM: He is a Vice President of the country, one of the two appointed by the President to assist him to implement the President’s agenda related to his pledges to the electorate…
SS: After Joice Mujuru was fired,
JM: No, no , no, I want to explain this . . .
SS: . . . was politically obliterated, Emmerson Mnangagwa by all accounts across this country is seen as the man who will be the next President.
JM: You can ask those who see him that way . . .
SS: Do you not see him that way?
JM: He is an appointed Vice President. The President did not appoint him so that he could succeed him. He appointed him so that he could assist him to implement the policy programme of the Government.
SS: Do you think that a man, and this is Mr Mnangagwa, who will always be associated with the massive abuse of human rights in the military campaign in the early 1980s which saw between 10 and 20 000 Ndebele people killed in Matabeleland, do you think he is the right man to take Zimbabwe forward in the 21st century?
JM: Look, it’s a strawman you are setting up and you are making a lot of assumptions without any evidence to support them. I repeat he has been appointed to assist the President. As for these associations you are alleging this is the stuff that you find in the newspapers. He is …
SS: It’s not just in the newspapers, it’s in the US State Department, it’s in a whole series of human rights reports from international organisations. We know for example that during this campaign, Mr Mnangagwa, he said, that he would shorten the stay on earth of any cockroaches who opposed Mr Mugabe. This now the man who is talked of as Zimbabwe’s next President. I just wonder if that is healthy.
JM: I want to repeat, this reference to him as the next President is yours and it is a burden that you should unravel for yourself and not state as a fact. However, it is also a fact we know as Zimbabweans that between 1980 and 1987 we went through a very dark period and a lot of things were done and said by elements of the political leadership including Emmerson Mnangagwa which are totally unacceptable…
SS: Forgive me for getting personal, but I believe you lost family members in that military campaign?
JM: Yes I did.
SS: And I just wonder whether you, personally, given your history, could countenance a man so closely associated with the mass killings becoming the next President of your country?
JM: What I can tell you is that before he departed, the late former Vice President Joshua Nkomo, who was much more involved with these issues that you are raising than yourself or anyone else who makes reference to them, entered into a Unity Accord which addressed those issues and we have learnt from that Unity Accord that it is far better to build bridges than to harbour grudges. It is not wise in politics to carry grudges with you.
SS: Just a final point on the leadership issue and then I want to move on to substantive policy areas, but on the leadership issue, late last year, I have already mentioned her but she became very significant in political terms that is the wife of the President: Grace Mugabe. She became the leader of the women’s movement inside Zanu-PF, many people began to see her as a potential future leader of the country and yet in recent weeks and months she’s played a very low profile. Is Grace Mugabe in your view as one of the most senior figures in Zanu-PF a future potential leader of this country?
JM: First of all it is a fact that she is a leader today not in future. The position of Secretary for Women’s League or Affairs is a leadership position in the ruling party and senior position at that. But if you are asking me is she a future President or some such thing, then of course you must know that it is always the people who decide that.